11.3 Spatial Climatology of Tornado Energy

Thursday, 14 January 2016: 2:00 PM
Room 245 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Tyler Fricker, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL; and J. B. Elsner

Large-scale tornado climatology is well defined and largely understood. This is especially true of work focused on tornado occurrence. The same, however, cannot be said of tornado energy. Estimates of tornado energy have been made before but only for a small set of tornadoes with damage contours (Fricker et al., 2014). More recently estimates of tornado energy were made using a model for percentage area by damage rating (Fricker and Elsner, 2015). In this talk, I will discuss tornado energy, moving beyond individual storm estimates, toward estimates of energy per area. Through the use of proportional allocation, estimates of tornado energy can be given to distinct regions, answering questions such as; (1) where in the United States are the most energetic (powerful) tornadoes occurring? (2) are certain regions more susceptible to tornadoes with high levels of energy? I contend that understanding tornado energy beyond an individual storm level allows for a more comprehensive comparison to be made between tornado climatologies based on tornado count and those based on tornado energy. The method of proportional allocation used allows for damage measures such as fatalities, injuries, and property loss to be evaluated by area. This allows for visuals, which express where the highest risk of fatalities and injuries are in the United States, allowing for potentially new insights that can benefit building managers, emergency mangers, and policymakers alike.

Fricker, T., J. B. Elsner, P. Camp, and T. H. Jagger (2014) Empirical estimates of kinetic energy from some recent U.S. tornadoes, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, doi:10.1002/2014GL060441.

Fricker T, Elsner JB (2015) Kinetic Energy of Tornadoes in the United States. PLoS ONE 10(7): e0131090. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0131090.

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